How can you tell which direction stuff is coming from? I've heard it has to do with volume and timing, but that doesn't answer all my questions. What I've heard is that, say, a sound is perceived to reach your right ear a little before it hits your left ear, and the sound is also louder in your right ear, therefore you here something coming from your right. Makes enough sense to me.

But now say someone is standing 10 ft. directly in front of you and says something. The waves will hit both your ears at the same time at the same volume. Now put him 30, or 100 feet in front of you, same time, same amplitude. Same goes for people standing behind you at varying distances. But you can always gauge direction and distance, and I just don't see how that's possible with 2 ears.

I'm prompted to think that it also has to do with the quality of the sound, but I'm nbot sure. For example, a sound coming from in front of you will more or less go straight to your ear drums, but a sound from behind will be muffled some what from hitting your ear lobes first. It's obviously not something you consciously think about, but your brain is built to interpret stuff correctly anyways. (Oh, that sounded like it hit the back of my ear lobes first, it must be coming from behind me!)

That last paragraph was unconfirmed hypothesis, any thoughts? (preferably facts?)
So your initial question is how you can tell which direction stuff is coming from.

Well, I wouldn't think it'd be that complicated of a concept - if you hear a sound coming from the right, it will probably hit your right ear first, thus sending signals into your brain that say "Hey, this sound is coming from my right. Cool beans."

And if the sound is coming from right in front of you, then the sound will probably filter through both ears evenly, since it originated from neither left nor right. Then the signals will say "Hey, this sound is filtering evenly through my left and right ears, thus indicating that the origination of the audiophonic material is right in front of me."

And all in a matter of milliseconds. Neeeeat stuff.
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Last edited by K-Lizzle at Sep 14, 2007,
Right, that's kind of what I said in the first paragraph

So now what's the difference between 10 ft in front, or a 100 ft in front, or a hundered ft in back, because they'll all reach your ears at the same time and volume! If timing and volume were all it was, those 3 scenarios would sound the same, but experience proves otherwise. why?
I dunno about volume, because if something makes a noise ten feet away, it will sound louder than if it were a hundred feet away. Maybe the sound waves dissipate somehow on their journey to your ears.

I have no idea if that answered your question. I'm kind of blabbing.
There's only one girl in the world for you
and she probably lives in Tahiti.
i guess one way you can tell that someones' 100 feet behind you instead of 10 feet is that they're yelling instead of talking normally... i dunno lol.

What are you talking about when you say volume? Are you saying that the volume at which the soundwaves hits your ears is the same? Or the volume at which the person is speaking is the same? Because if it's the volume at which they are speaking, then that means the further away they are the lower the volume of the sound hitting your ears because soundwaves dissipate. Like this: ))) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ). I don't know if that made any sense. I'm finding it really hard to explain myself.
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I believe you can tell how far away someone is in the sense that obviously the sound waves will have dissipated slightly even at 10 ft. Obviously at 100ft, they will be more dissipated. If you're saying that you're hearing the same volume, than obviously the person at 100ft had to yell, which sounds way different than a whisper from, say, 6 inches, which could technically be the same volume.
No, no, what I'm saying about volume is that if there's a noise to your right, it'll be louder in your right ear than in your left. Kind of like panning in stereo recording to make noises come from different directions.

I'm just thinking though, in real life, you can tell if a sound is coming from behind you, or in front, or from an angle. But in stereo recorded music, why can't you make a sound that gives the impression that it's coming from behind you? Because all you have is 2 audio transmitters (headphones) and 2 receptors (ears), so you'd think you should be able to produce that effect, unless it's a derived sensation from, say, sound waves being picked up from your back and your brain interpreting everything to say the sound is at 6'oclock. (hope that makes sense, I'm just saying that maybe your extra-auditory senses affect the way you percieve sound).